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Consider This

Series/Special. An interactive current affairs talk show focusing on issues affecting Americans' day-to-day lives. New. (CC) (Stereo)

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01:01:00

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California 25, U.s. 6, Mexico 6, Us 6, John Mccain 3, America 3, Arizona 3, Pellic 3, Us From Portland 2, Martha Stewart 2, Dan Stien 2, Wilber 2, Baghdad 2, Oregon 2, Syria 2, Dolores 2, Vietnam 2, New York 2, Iis 1, Himalayas 1,
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  Al Jazeera America    Consider This    Series/Special. An interactive current affairs talk show  
   focusing on issues affecting Americans' day-to-day lives. New....  

    August 24, 2013
    10:00 - 11:01pm EDT  

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>> welcome to aljazeera, here are tonight's top stories. the international group, doctors without borders has treated 3600 patients with neuro toxic symptoms for exposure to cell weapons. president barack obama has talked about possible options in syria. angela caine is now in syria, asking for access to the site of the alleged chemical attack. wildfires in the west are showing no signs of slowing down. the rim wildfire is now threatening california's
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yosemite national park. two groves of sec/ias. keeping watch over the zoo's newest resident. a baby panned a. no bigger than a stick of butter. it's her third. her second cub was born last year but died after a week. the new panda's gender has yet to be determined. and it's name will be decided when it's about 100 days old. go to aljazeera.com.
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>> charges that our nation's prisons are going from punishment to torture, a widespread hunger strike in california's prisons. where is the line between justice and cruel and unusual punishment. and activists paying the price at the border. can it change the face of the argument? we'll hear from them and their opponents. good evening, and welcome to consider this. dozens of prisoners in california are entering their 7th week of hunger strikes to protest solitary confinement. and now a judge says that the prison staff can force feed them if they're starving to death, even if they sign do not resuscitate forms. >> >> reporter: isolation behind bars. californians protesting call it
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solitary confinement. and prison officials call it security housing units. >> some have committed a specific offense, like murder, attempted murder, arson. >> >> reporter: supporters of the practice say that it's sometimes needed to punish inmates or to stop dangerous prisoners from harming others. but opponents call the isolation of prisoners torture. it's not clear how many prisoners are kept in solitary cells in the u.s. as of 2005, 25,000 people were held in super max prisons. where those prisoners the most dangerous are kept in a single cell for 23 hours a day. >> 7 days a week, 365 days a year. no human contact. >> he spent 12 years in new york prisons. he spent six of those years in isolation. the reason to having a banned
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book. >> how do you cope with having the mental or physical stresses? >> we don't. you go crazy. you lose your mind. actually, you try to make attempts of things, and you do everything from cutting out little cards and playing cards with yourself, and you read every day, including the dictionary. >> research shows that a few days of social isolation can cause lasting mental damage. one study found that in california, prisoners isolated were three times more likely to commit suicide than those who were not. >> people develop symptoms of extreme anxiety and panic attacks, and even hallucinations, suicidal gestures, and suicide is much more prevalent in solitary. >> >> reporter: he's helping to organize parallel hunger
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strikes for the protesting prisoners in california. he wants other prisoners to avoid what he calls a prison within a prison. >> most americans probably don't think about what goes on in prison unless they have a personal connection. but 760 out of every 10,000 people in the u.s. are in prison. we have the highest number of people in prison in the world. and 80,000 of them are in solitary confinement. some view it as one of the most pressing concerns. joining me, he spent 12 years in solitary confinement, punishment and deliver rance, and we're joined by robert macnamara, a retired corrections officer, who served at pellic an bay prison, and he joins us from portland, oregon. thank you both for joining us, and witch, i would like to start
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with you. you were a prison guard at pellic an bay until two years ago, and james beard, from the department of corrections, he said isolation is needed because of the gangs. they're necessary to keep violent inmates from harming other inmates. the leaders of the most violent and influential prison gangs in california, the familia and the black guerilla family. you saw them firsthand. and you believe they deserve it? >> i believe they deserve to be in the shoe. the security housing unit. i don't believe that california's facilities are as solitary as you're projecting it in the broadcast. inmates have contact with between 8 and 15 inmates at
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least three times every two days, and they relate to numerous staff, custody, medical and counseling staff. >> it's not as extreme as some super maxes around the country, where there's no contact with anybody. but you say there's no question that the security housing units in california are something that is essential for prisons to function? >> i think it's essential for society to isolate these people from their gang activities, and controlling the violent behavior on the streets. >> now, you were in solitary for a very very long time. and what did it do to you? >> well, it was easily the most stressful period in my life. i mean, it's the cruelest thing you will ever do to another being.
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make them lonely. >> what kind of exchanges did you have with other people when you were in solitary? >> i reached a point, i was counting the rivets in my cell. and finally, i tapped into a black market where i could get some books, and i started reading, and that's the way i lived. i lived inside my head because there was nothing else. but for a while, the problem with solitary, when you're cut off from human contact and feedback from other people, it's feedback from the rest of society and the people around you who provide the context for your being. it tells you who you are, and your place in life. and the scheme of things. and when you lose that, you lose that -- when you lose that frame of reference, well, you know, you are unmoored. you kind of drift. >> unmooreed is kind of a good way to describe it. the suicide rate among people in
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solitary is so much higher than people who are not. and the descriptions of people who pretty much loose their minds in solitary over time are really quite horrifying. is it something that needs to be at least reevaluated in the rest of the country? >> i think that the term isolation in solitary should certainly have legal definitions, and the amount of time people have while incarcerated should have a standard. my experience was in the california prison system, and it doesn't seem to be the isolation that other people are talking about. and this hunger strike is in the california system. and so i think it's better if we speak about how the california system and these inmates are being treated. >> let's talk about that.
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we're talking about four groups who hate each other. the arian brotherhood and two mexican gangs and a black group, and these guys are normally at each other's notes, and they managed to organize a massive hunger strike, 30,000 inmates, one quarter of those in california. >> if you knew these people, you would think that they hate each other and are at each other's throats, it's more on the streets they battle. and they battle for turf in the prisons, but in the stewart -- y housing units, when they're in the same sections, they talk to each other, and share books, and they interrelate to one another. they're not glaring at each other. and they're not enemies. for them, this is business. and at the top level, they get
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along any executives get along. >> let's listen to what the wife of a prisoner in california, on a hunger strike who is living in solitary, who says in some ways that the prisoners in california are already dead. >> what he had said to me, of course nobody wants to die, but living in that for all of these years, they're already dead. so what option do they have left? >> wilbert, is that how you felt? >> that is the way i felt. when you're in solitary, most of the people in prison are alone, they don't have friends, and a lot of them don't have visitors, and they don't have anything. and when you're in a jail, you become even more alone. that's something else that i would like to point out. one of your guests stated what the situation was in california. the problem with this is, and i'm listening to you talking about it.
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you're describing the narrative that is given by the prison authorities. we have to take their word. this is just a power grab by the prison gangs, and they're the ones doing this. i'm not saying they're not. but what i'm saying, the problem with this whole thing is you have to take their word for it. >> there's no way for you or anybody else to check. >> we have heard from prisoners, who have been part of the hunger strike and have written to the governor. and we're taking a closer look at who is in solitary confinement. we'll have the mother who is in solitary confinement. consider this, and we'll be right back.
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>> the horrors of solitary confinement in prison on movies and television, on shawshank redemption, and hbo's oz.
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whatever it's called, with he all know it's a place you don't want to go. >> i want to protect you. ple you out of that one bunk and cast you out with the sodomites. >> to take a closer look at solitary, and why more than 80,000 inmates find themselves there, dolores, she's from anaheim, california, and she's the mother of john martinez, convicted in 1992 of second-degree murder, and he has spent the last years in solitary confinement in pellic an bay. and richard macnamara, a corrections officer at pellic an bay for 17 years. he joins us from portland, oregon. my thanks to all of you, and dolores, i want to start with you. you've been campaign on the issue of security housing units for a very long time. what makes you so angry at
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what's going on in california and particularly your son? >> well, in the state of california, to end up in solitary confinement, they don't have to have a rules violence report. it's more based on who we think you are, who we think you might know, or what we think you might do, but the problem is a lot of it is based on a lot of prison statements, and nobody knows who these prisoners are. and i did hear on the interview, where it's described in pellic an bay as having with 8 to 10 individuals, and this is absolutely not true. if they let reporters in to see, they are taken into the yard and they're taken there alone. very few men are double bunked and for the most part, they're single cell. >> what changes have you seen in your son? has he changed dramatically?
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>> my son does study. ask the we're able to send him correspondent courses to continue his education, and that plays a big role. but there are thousands of prisoners that do not have this opportunity. but even with this opportunity this my son has, he has written letters saying that he has no doubt that this place was designed to drive men mad or to suicide. >> i don't mean to be harsh, but your son was convicted of second-degree murder and wha who you say to the art that people who murder people need to be separated in many cases from the prison population and the guards for everybody's sake. >> well, first of all, i would like it say that anybody who has been a victim of crime, i in no way mean to disregard their pain or suffering, and that's the hardest part about being involved in this advocacy is always having the victim before
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me and what somebody has been through. but in the state of california, under california law, you don't need to be the actual perpetrator of the crime to end up with a life sentence, nor do you need -- >> i want to talk about what you just said and richard earlier. the department of corrections describes the sentence in your son's unit very differently to say the least than what you're describing and what others have said. she says solitary, what richard said, doesn't exist. >> they get out to showers, they go out to visiting, they go out to the law library, and they have activities. they're not just sitting there doing nothing. >> richard, again, she seems to agree with you. she says it's not that bad. >> exactly, the truth is that as they come out for showers, as they go to yards, as they go to
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law library and counseling, they're allowed out of their cell into a common area shared with seven other cells. during that period, they can look face-to-face, and inmates touch pinkies because human contact is important. so they stop and they talk to one another, which they can also do when in their cells, though they can't see each other. so they do have this interaction with one another. and with all of the other staff. that's where they're not isolated some call out chess moves between each other, and they talk about the football game this they're all watching in common. there's more comradery and interaction than the word solitary would lead a person to believe. if you haven't seen it, you wouldn't understand, but they're not as isolated as society fears they are. >> again, this is in california where the big hunger strike has been going on, but wilber, there
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are prisons where there's no human contact at all, 24 hours a day. they're locked in their cells. >> let me show you this, in the system, most of your suicides happen in cells. i don't care how you make the cells, they happen in cells, to people living alone, and that should tell i, that should speak volumes to you about making people live alone. okay, so the situation that you just described in california, you're talking about keeping people like that for 20 some years, a couple of decades, louisiana, they have a record, a couple of guys, wallace and woodfox have been looked up over 40 years. >> even john mccain, who suffered in vietnam has said that he doesn't believe that
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extended solitary confinement makes sense. >> i don't believe in solitary confinement is good either. but that's not the situation in california. it's torture. that would be the truth. solitary confinement would be torture. >> so you believe that solitary confinement, the way its used in some of the super max prisons in the country is torture? >> i haven't seen that myself, but i would say that as john mccain experienced it, in the prison cells in vietnam, that's torture, and i don't know for a fact that's what's happening in america. >> take it from me. making somebody live in a small confine of a space that's no larger than a car's parking space or small bathroom, that's torture. try it for 12 years. >> we have questions --
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>> may i make a point about the suicides? they happen in cells, but ut individuals locked in those cells in pelican bay, if allowed interaction with other people would create a higher murder rate. rather than killing themselves, they kill other people, and that is why they're isolated from other people. >> exhume, if i could say something really quick, what would you say to the most recent example. mr. aguilar spent 17 years in solitary confinement in pelican state bay prison, and he qualified for release under 36, where the judge subpoenaed them, to show why they have had him in there for 17 years, and it's on video where the judge says, i cannot find anything to keep this man in custody. they are not, they are in a cement cell, and it's not rational, it's a windowless cell
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with holes, and they don't have the dime sized holes, that's just a metal door, and if you would like to refer to dr. patterson's 354 report on the suicides that have taken place in california prisons while being held in solitary confinement. >> they're certainly at a higher rate than people who are not. but we have questions coming in from viewers, and i would like to get to valerie. >> view, charlie wants to know, what is the process that authorities go through before placing an inmate into solitary, and what level of proof do they need to have that the inmate poses danger? especially when the inmate has a gang affiliation? >> that's a very good question. there's quite an extensive process. the gang unit is always working to interview members who are ready to debrief and get out of the lifestyle.
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a great deal comes from those people. and we also watch the mail and listen to visitor's conferences when they have visitation. that information is combined with their behavior, and if they're on a mainline yard. and they get involved in violent incidents, we use the security cameras to see who they're interacting with during and prior to the incidents, there's an extensive process. and in fact, the vast majority of the inmates in solitary confinement don't go there because we have so few in solitary confinement. knowing a gang membership is not a difficult problem, but to get -- >> i would like to answer that, that's the whole reason for this
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hunger strike taking place right now. nowhere in the prisoner's demand are they even asking for release from solitary confinement. >> but dorse, they have asked for much more limited time in solitary confinement. they're not asking to be released immediately, but for limits on how much time they can spend in solitary. >> this is in comparison to 30 years, but what they're asking for is due process, fair due process because of the placement. other prisoners being held in solitary confinement. but all of a sudden, should they say something about another prisoner, they will use things like other prisoner's statements, drawings, tattoos, and the retired officer was saying, incoming mail, i've had mail returned to me that i was
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promoting gang activity, in which i was not, and i wrote them, and i contacted everybody i needed to contact and everything has been taken care of on several different occasions, but if you're out here and you don't know to do that, that prisoner ends up with points. if you're out here and you have absolutely no idea. and you are getting this letter and you don't understand why your mail is being rejected. and i understand that it happens far too often. >> your son made it to the governor of california and he quoted john mccain and asked that all of these issues be taken into consideration. and the last word to you, dolores, what do you think is going to happen to him. >> my son? we're still very hopeful and we have been all of these years, but i would like to say the last word to the officer's statements, under federal law, research chimpanzees are being protected from being housed in
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solitary, though research chimpanzees can hear one another, it's detrimental to their physical health to be in one single cage by themselves. >> very coral studies on chimpanzees have shown just how damaging it is to them. >> it's because they're defined as social creatures, and i was wondering if the officer would define them as social creatures or not human? >> no, he says that the human contact is important. and we're going to have to leave it there. dolores and wilber and richard, thank you for this, we'll be right back.
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>> our data segment has new information to challenge. if you thought americans are more informed today than ever, you would be wrong, but don't worry, you'd have plenty of company from the back of the
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class. the annual report, a.c.t., also known as the college entrance exam which is not the s.a.t. is public. more than 30% did not make the cut in any of the four subjects, and even worse, only 5% of black students are prepared. those numbers come on the heels of a study from penn state university, which asks college students today the same questions they asked students in 1980, incredibly, 30% thought that baghdad was the capital of afghanistan. many of them would have protested the war in iraq without knowing that baghdad was it's capital. you would think that anyone would know that ben franklin flew the kite with the key attached to prove electricity. but no, a lot less know that than 30 years ago. and paris, how do college
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students not know that it's the capital of france. cheetahs are the fastest land animal, and 12% think that mount everest think that it's in the appalachians, in the united states, instead of the himalayas. and now we know why lone ranger was set to flop. only a handful know that tonto is his sidekick. we'll be back with more on consider this.
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>> when the house heads back to work next month, immigration reform is something that they will have to deal with.
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in arizona, immigration rights activists dealt with it their own way. brought to the u.s. as children, they were arrested as they chained themselves to fence at facility. those who don't have documents and are already in the country, and they would like an end to immigration raids and deportation. the so-called dream nine sought to get back into the u.s. after asylum and spending two weeks in arizona's detention center, the dream 9 were released. they all would have persecution if sent back to their own country. fear of persecution from immigrants crossing the border to mexico has increased in the
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last years. asylum in the nine months. i'm joined by one of the dream nine and could founder of the youth alliance that sponsored the alliance. she moved from mexico when 14, and she's pursuing an immigration degree at university of santa clara. and she's tired of immigration not moving forward. and also joining us, david le polled, of the national lawyers association, and advocate. and dan stien, president of federation of american immigration reform, a group that wants to put an end to illegal immigration and produce legal immigration. why did you leave the u.s. and go to hex mex to stage this protest. and why did you think that you would be persecuted if you returned to mexico? >> well, we left because that's
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the reality a lot of people go through. documented, you always have the risk of being deported at any time, and you have the risk of being separated from your family, and that's exactly what happened to the other six dreamers that came back with us. they were living in a lot of fear, some of them were almost kidnapped, the family members kidnapped and i left, the three of us left because we wanted to bring them back and shed light on this issue. there are a lot of people, a lot of dreamers who grew up in this country just like we did. and they're waiting to come home. and the something needs to happen. somebody needs to take care of that issue. >> and you felt that by doing this, you would call attention to the issue and it would be an important move. >> absolutely, we can't forget about people who are deported, their dreams, their lives, their suffering doesn't end there. and a lot of them are waiting to
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come home. we can't say, let's just move on with our lives. >> and david, you're ann immigration advocate, but you don't support their protest? >> i support the dream 9 and their passion to immigration reform. thamy issue. i took issue with the tactics. you saw that protest yesterday in arizona. it was a spontaneous show of civil disobedience with an immigration enforcement bus coming outside of a detention center. and the difference is that yesterday, what we saw, was people crying out to congress to the house of representatives to do something. the house has been given a strong grace bill. there's no reason why john boehner, the speaker of the
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house, won't let the majority vote on it, and that's what we should be focusing on. that's the dream nine. >> i'm really glad to be here, the dream act is part and parcel of the national debate. why so many people are here illegally who have been here so long. if people came here illegally and brought children with them at the time 15, 25 years ago, the question the american people want to know is, why is it that our immigration control system identify, apprehend and remove people who overstay visa and come across the border
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illegally. the national dialogue has not occurred. and it's vehemently opposed by our organization, and the senate bill is not a balanced package that's not going to produce meaningful and effective deterrents moving forward. >> but what would you do then? would you deport all 11 million here now. >> i'm not saying i know how many people are here illegally. maybe there are 7 million, and 50 million, and the bottom line, the argument that we have to jam through a bad piece of legislation from the senate because there may be a lot of people here illegally is not to embrace what is dismal public policy. the senate bill is drafted with special interest, and senator schumer said, what does everybody the? and politically and financially, i'll put this in and that in.
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an 1100 people -- >> that soiled, and david, i would like to go with you, we're talking about people in this country who didn't come here, she had nothing to do with it, she has worked hard, gone to college, and she's going to law school, how does it make sense to deport somebody like her? >> it absolutely doesn't. she's the type of person we want in this country. i'm not here with any solutions. and the senate bill, i'm not happy with every provision in that bill. but it's a good bill. it does three things that are critically important. it gives us smart we ought to be going after the drug dealers, and not the dishwashers and people trying to make a living in this country. it overhauls the immigration system.
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i work in the system every day, and this is the system, for example, we have a department of labor, and it says we don't have enough nurses in the country. that's what the department of labor says, but you can't get visa for nurses because we don't have enough visa, we have a broken, broken system. and i dare to wonder how many of these people are here illegally are actually waiting in the legal line. so we need a pathway to legalization, to citizenship, for those who are here undommed. we're not giving away -- by the way, the senate bill doesn't need anybody anything. it's an arduous path. and it requires people do a background check, and they stay employed. and they can not be employed for a long period of time. >> and back taxes and other things. do you supported senate bill? >> i actually think that yes, we
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do need immigration reform. and we have been waiting for it for a long time. and we can't forget that the people that have left that have been deported, 1 million families have been separated. and we can't forget that. so they need a pathway it come home and be united with their families. and we can do both things. i know that david doesn't agree with our tactics, but what we're agreeing with, we deserve to come home. the things that i saw in mexico were things that i never thought i would see. i couldn't go out by myself anywhere. my family said, young women have been kidnapped and raped. and so many things that people break into other people's houses because they think they have money because they have lived in the u.s. for a long time.
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and that would be me. and they deserve to come home. >> but that raises the issue of asylum. not very many people from mexico do get asylum. and many are asking for it now, but the question now is, because mexico has become so dangerous. and a lot of people are in danger and could be killed. where do you draw the line. >> i think that the numbers are clear. 90% of those cases get denied. and the i wish her well in that case, the rest of the dream nine, and i don't know the facts of the cases, but this is about the internal immigration system. we have 11 million plus people in this country without documents and need documents. and we have hundreds of thousands of dreamers, who like elizabeth, are americans in
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every way except for paperwork. so we need to fix that, and give them full participation in the american family. >> let's talk about what the americans think of this. it's not just the ones that are undocumented. 64% of the americans support the full comprehensive bill passed by the senate. and only 31% are opposed. dan, when you see that support, don't you think that it's time we figure something out so we can at least legalize the people who have been working and aren't criminals? >> we try to recommend to the american people policies that are actually going to work. and i would challenge anybody. the american people don't know what's in that 1100 paged bill.
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those are based on leading questions. anybody who tries to explain to the american people how the senate bill, if it were enacted, would actually produce a bill where someone overstays a visa would be apprehended and removed in an expedited and efficient manner, but it wouldn't, and the president, though mr. leap old thinks that the only issue is getting people here legally. >> but my basic question to that iis, and i completely understan, people are here illegally and they have done something that they shouldn't have done, and you would have major communities that would be bankrupt and an economic disaster if every person you picked up you tried to send back to their home country.
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>> elizabeth is saying that she wants 1.7 million people who have been deported should come back in. and david says, we don't have enough people in the country, we need more nurses. 65% of the jobs that have been created since obama took office have gone to foreign workers when we have the slowest economic recovery on record. and the argument is, is it time for congress to be enacting -- we're not talking about a narrow bill for people who have been brought here under the able of 12, the dream act, 5, 10 years ago, instead of dismantling enforcement like the obama administration has done, they would work in the other direction to ensure rigorous enforcement to give the american people confidence that the system has correct. >> but the american people seem
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to the changes, d not, david? >> of course the american people want change, and they overwhelmingly report from dan stien. he can't win it. with the immigration reform. we're talking about $1.4 billion infused into the economy. and that creates jobs, it brings in science, technology, and engineering and economics, and that creates jobs for americans. >> unfortunately, we'll have to leave it there. we have run out of time. and i thank you all for joining us, and i wish you good luck in
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becoming a colleague, and good luck in law school. thank you for joining us tonight. we'll be back with more of consider this.der this, the teln
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landscape has dramatically changed over the last 15 years, as we're seeing more and more television shows that are interchangeable with great films, we're seeing the anti-hero, from tony soprano to dexter to walter white, a lot of [ inaudible ] [ audio difficulties ] >> somehow, you better i would never be if a jail cell. >> we're joined to discuss
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america's fascination with the anti-hero, for npr. [ audio difficulties ] film and the arts, and david, it's good to have you, and bill, is there something about our culture that's changed over the past couple of decades that has given a rise to these characters? the conventional wisdom is that americans would never allow these kinds of people in their living room. >> there are essentially two ways to look at this. particularly when you think about the male characters. the dangerous, hulking, angry male. go back to [ audio difficulties ] then there was archie bunker, he
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called his wife dingbat. and today we see a plethora of them. but the ground is shifting beneath their feet. so we do have these dangerous men, but all of them are challenged by their surroundings severely. and that shows a little bit of the security that men have these days. >> you addressed that, and the love of these ambiguous guys say about it some. >> there have been so many situations where how a particular race is portrayed in the media and the effects that has on it, especially of women. but there's really no reasonable portrayal of even a remotely sensitive or introspective man, other than gay characters, and that's reflected in our culture, types of characters that are dreamed up in the first place on
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a lot of these programs 68. >> shows in the 1980s and 90s, the cosby show, and friends, a more sensitive guy, a show like seinfeld [ audio difficulties ] they showed pretty sensitive. >> i love you. come here. >> i'm already here. you know what? call me. >> whatever you want. >> bill, is it a bad thing that we have gotten away from the seinfeld of the world? >> well, it's interesting, because we really have. and seinfeld is really interesting. because those men were entirely demasculinized. they were afraid of women. and -- >> he was probably the masculine character in that show. >> she's very confrontational. the way that men are supposed to
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be. and so seinfeld was a great portrait of men demasculinated. but let's remember that seinfeld was an enormous hit. 30 million people watched it, and sopranos, 10, 11 million. so you may say that the interest in these men is limited, but it's hbo and it's what is called the demo audience. >> and they're getting great rates for cable. breaking bad had huge rates. 5.9 million viewers, and it's super acclaimed. look at the current emmy nominations. boardwalk empire has an ambiguous guy as the lead. 10 emmy nominations, and success must have changed what's being put on television, that critical
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success. >> no question about it, and what we're seeing on a lot of these fictional shows, dramas or sitcoms or reality shows even is really reflecting a lot of the perceptions and the lenses that people are emphasizing for people in real life. martha stewart is often perceived as a woman who is too aggressive and not nice, and even the "b" word used to describe her. and that's totally a gender stereotype. if you had martha stewart as a man, she wouldn't be considered a good business person, and the lens through which people saw her would be completely different. >> bill, as i was growing up in my adult years there was a snobbery about television, and people wore a badge of honor in the fact that they didn't have a tv set. and you said you were one of those people, but now you've changed your tune, and have
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written about it, saying that tv may be the signature cultural achievement of america in the 21st century. >> in the last couple of decades, i think it's unquestionable. and that's your point about the emmys and stuff. even if breaking bad gets 20% of the viewers that seinfeld did, it says something about our society when the great artists are working out these problems, right? so you go back to tony soprano, and this is the man who is shot through the legs of a nude female statue, so he's dealing with his wife, mother, daughter, sister, shrink, and you set that up, and what david chase did with that over the next 9, 10 years, is remarkable. there are 500 shows on at any time, right, but even if 1% of them are good, there are five great shows on at any time. >> we have a viewer question.
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>> on twitter, danny says, looking at the great drama lanes, the question needs to be asked, is there such a thing as a hero anymore or are there just anti-heroes? >> that's such a good points, and i'm sure that there are heroes. but people to deal with these things. the beginning of mad men, it's amazing. the ground is literally crumbling underneath his feet in the opening credits of madmen, and i think it says something about it, we thirst for complex fee. and another thing briefly, i would say don draper's wife, betsy, and the hero of breaking bad, these are heroes that actually change and evolve, which is very unusual on tv.
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we like the stereotype, and i think that walter white and betsy draper are the people we see over the years becoming much different people. >> to piggyback on what bill is saying, the sensibilities have changed. but to look at polls on anything, news, politics, it's so sceptical now, and it's not about being anti-heroes, but any hero is met with skepticism, is he really a hero or an anti-hero? >> many of them are off-cable and they have gone to basic cable. and will they make it to broadcast? maybe lost had a few semi-anti-heroes there, but the networks seem to have gone to the darker themes. phil? >> that's definitely a great point. they shy away and it makes them
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very nervous. but over the years, every year the average audience for these broadcast networks goes down just a little bit, and within five to ten years, that distinction is very much going to be a raise. >> something that we haven't discussed -- >> we only have 10 seconds. >> the internet, we're not talking about the influence of the internet, and huge online audiences like vice. >> and we have to deal with the female anti-heroines which are beginning to show up on some tv shows. bill, david, thank you very much. and the show may be over but the conversation continues on the website. aljazeera.com. and twitter, have a great night, see you tomorrow. 0's
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hello, and welcome to al jazeera. i am thomas drashington in new york. >> they have described to our medical teams in doctors without borders appear to be consistent with exposure to neuro toxic agents. >> a humanitarian group's. president obama has a range of potential options on how to respond. a fast-moving wildfire threat ends yosemite national park.

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